Investigators probe theft of Defense medical records

Federal investigators are trying to find the thieves who stole computer equipment and medical records from a military contractor's offices in mid-December.

Several law enforcement agencies, including the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI, are involved in the search for the files, which contained such sensitive information as patients' claims history and Social Security numbers.

Investigators are still assessing the magnitude of the robbery, according to officials from Tricare and TriWest Health Care Alliance Corp., which administers the military's Tricare health plan in 16 midwestern and western states. They have not yet determined a motive for the theft. The medical records were stolen from TriWest at the Tricare Central Region health contractor's Phoenix offices on Dec. 14.

"TriWest is mobilizing all resources at our disposal to assist law enforcement in the apprehension of the person or persons responsible for this crime and to recover the stolen property," said David McIntyre Jr., the company's chief executive officer and president, in a statement.

The theft has not resulted in any disruption in services to Tricare beneficiaries, according to a Dec. 24 statement from TriWest.

After learning of the theft on Dec. 20, the Defense Department took steps to protect other records. The department required all Tricare contractors to assess their current security systems. Federal officials are working at TriWest's two corporate offices in Phoenix to find ways to prevent future break-ins.

Tricare beneficiaries seeking further information can call 888-339-9378 or send an e-mail computertheft@triwest.com.

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